Opening a coffee shop can be a very profitable venture if you do it right. Pass by any busy coffee shop and it will likely be full of customers enjoying coffee, lattes, espressos, and a variety of pastries and other goodies.
Serving quality coffees and snacks in a relaxing, trendy atmosphere is a hugely successful business model. So, if you love coffee and are looking for a great business opportunity, this is your guide to starting a coffee shop and making it a success.
Steps to Start a Coffee Shop
Here are the steps you’ll have to follow to start a coffee shop.
Step 1: Make a coffee shop business plan.
Creating a detailed coffee shop business plan is the first step you’ll have to complete. Your coffee shop business plan must include details such as:
- What your business is
- Your target market
- Goals and milestones
- Your competitors
- Revenue and sales projections
A good business plan is a must for any project, as it provides a deep understanding of the business itself. Moreover, a detailed business plan can help you attract investors. After all, no one will finance an idea by itself, but a nice coffee shop business plan can inspire potential sponsors to invest funds in your business idea.
Foot traffic is crucial when you’re choosing a coffee shop location – but a ton of foot traffic doesn’t matter if those people aren’t your target market.
Understanding your target market is essential when you’re starting a coffee shop and it should influence your location decision.
For instance, if you’re targeting employees on their way to work, opening your coffee shop in a family-friendly mall might cause your business to struggle even if the location generates a lot of foot traffic.
You’d be better off opening your coffee shop in a business district or in an area close to an office park.
When looking for the best location for your coffee shop, another factor you should consider is its accessibility. The convenience of your coffee shop’s location will weigh into their decision to first give you a try – and if they’ll come back in the future.
Think back to your target market and how they will get to your location. If they’re driving, it’s very important to provide parking space. For coffee shops that target customers walking to or from one destination to the next, street visibility might be more important.
Remember, if your coffee shop isn’t easily accessible, you may lose your customers to the competition.
Step 2: Optimize infrastructure
Ideally, you should look for a cozy space that fits an optimal number of people without feeling overcrowded.
Also, you need room to set up your coffee shop equipment comfortably so baristas have enough space to move around.
In addition to the actual space, note that some commercial spaces don’t allow food permits on their property.
So, make sure to inquire about this information when you’re scouting coffee shop locations, and consider hiring a business or legal expert to determine what licenses or permits you may need.
Step 3: Create your coffee shop design and concept.
A great coffee shop should provide not only great drinks and food – but its overall design and concept must be amazing too!
When starting a coffee shop, you should strive to provide your customers with a unique and comfortable atmosphere – one that they will fall in love with.
We’re not just talking about the design. Though the design and aesthetics of your coffee shop are important, you should also pay attention to the overall image of your business and the way your personnel interacts and communicates with visitors.
Every detail must follow the general concept to create a feeling of ‘completeness’. The lighting, colors, furniture, and even the coffee shop background music must all complement each other. If you manage to achieve this balance, your visitors will definitely come back and recommend your coffee shop to people they know.
Bonus Tip: Looking for some ideas for your coffee shop interior? Here are some basics to remember when setting up.
- Reflect your brand. Your coffee shop will be memorable if it has a strong brand that can be seen through your décor, service, products, and employees. Your brand includes your coffee shop’s identity, concept, mission, and personality. Your coffee shop design should be consistent with and enhance your brand, creating an ambiance that’s apparent to your customers.
- Choose your lighting carefully. Whenever possible, use natural lighting to take advantage of organic light and conserve energy. During the day, cool lights are a great option, as they illuminate areas with similar tones to daylight. To create a comforting atmosphere in the evening, soft and warm tones are ideal because they create a gentler contrast from the darkness. However, depending on your coffee shop’s brand, you can choose to always use either warm or cool tones.
- Create a coffee shop floor plan. A solid, welcoming floor plan is important for any coffee shop. You want employees to have the materials they need within reach for quick access, customers to have space to form a line, and a comfortable seating area. Walk yourself through every possible scenario you can think of. For instance, if you’re making coffee, what needs to be near you? If you’re a customer, what would you want to have in your seating area? Visualize everything and start putting those ideas down on paper. Having a smart floor plan can contribute to the overall ambiance and design of your coffee shop.
Step 4: Create your coffee shop logo and signage.
Your coffee shop logo and signage are the ‘face’ of your business, so it’s very important that you choose it carefully. Obviously, your coffee shop name, logo, and signage should all complement each other.
To get the best logo and signage possible, go to a design studio or hire a professional designer to help you out.
If you don’t have a lot of design ideas about how everything should look, you can ask them to provide you with several design options so you can choose exactly the logo and signage that matches your concept you’re going for.
Bonus Tip: To increase the visibility of your website, consider creating your own coffee shop website. Of course, your coffee shop website must also reflect your logo, signage, name, and coffee shop menu. Also, consider creating a coffee shop tagline – make sure that it’s catchy and memorable!
Step 5: Choose the right equipment.
A great location and coffee shop design will do you little good unless you get high-quality coffee shop equipment. To run your coffee shop successfully, you need to have the right equipment on hand. Here’s a list of some essential equipment that every up-and-coming coffee shop owner must consider.
- Commercial Grade Espresso Machine
- Commercial Grade Coffee Grinder
- Drip Brewer
- Water Filtration System
- Refrigeration and Freezers
- Toasters and Ovens
- Shelving and Display Boards
- Point-of-Sale System
There are plenty of other equipment to consider when opening a new coffee shop, but these are just some of the basics that you absolutely must have.
Step 6: Find reliable suppliers.
Finding reliable suppliers is the next step. Don’t just focus on the prices – the quality of the products is a more important factor! Do your research, explore the market, find credible suppliers, and check reviews about them if possible. After you narrow down your options, check their prices and business terms.
Once you’ve made a choice, make sure that you read the contract carefully before signing anything. If possible, you should reserve the right to work with several suppliers. Another good idea is looking for small, local suppliers.
Do you know someone who makes amazing homemade cookies and other pastries? Why not work with them? Besides, offering homemade goods can become your special feature and may help you attract more customers.
Step 7: Hire the right staff.
Aside from the design and equipment of your coffee shop, you need to hire the right staff too. To find reliable personnel, develop portraits of your future workers. What qualities do they need?
What skills must they have? Then, create a catchy job description and publish it on job portals and social networks. Don’t forget to prepare for potential employee interviews – think about questions that you’d like to ask them.
Excellent customer service is the hallmark of any successful business, particularly in the food service industry. And to deliver great customer service, you need to have the right people. Combine a great location, high-quality offerings, and great customer services and, chances are, you’ll have a very successful coffee shop.
The Bottom Line
Starting a coffee shop is hard work, but that doesn’t mean it has to be a long-term struggle. We hope that these tips on starting a coffee shop will help you get started on your business journey!